The Saddest Show on Earth

December 11, 2011
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Stoney, an elephant, became a performer. He worked at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas as part of a magic act. Stoney performed long tedious tricks so that customers could laugh. One day, during a rough rehearsal, Stoney stood up on his hind legs for one of his tricks. His hamstring exploded and he was not able to move because of it. Stoney’s owners put him away in a dumpster out back. Afterwards, he was moved into a steel shed and was left there for 11 months to suffer. He eventually died because he trying to stand up while being illegally transported to an elephant-breeding farm. He was virtually left to rot to death as a result of a degrading, humiliating show. Stoney’s death could have been avoided if there were laws that protected elephants from being used in the entertainment business.

It's a funny thing," one of them said, "After the elephant fell, he was lying on the ground sort of groaning in pain. Then the trainer walked through the door and that elephant started chirping and calling to him; then he reached out his trunk to the guy like he wanted to touch him. The guy said 'cut it out Stoney' and sort of pushed the trunk away. Then the elephant kind of sighed and then he died. (One of the crane operators who removed Stoney’s body, http://animalrights.about.com/od/saddestshow/a/StoneyDeath.htm)
It’s funny how the poor thing tried calling for help for one of his so called beloved trainers and all he got was the cold shoulder.
Circuses and magic shows provide entertainment for kids and adults alike. However, things can get too far when trainers abuse their elephants repetitively to get results out of them. Elephants should not be used in the entertainment business. For them to be beaten on the count of our pleasure, is just plain cruel. If they don’t perform their tricks correctly, it results in them being whipped multiple times. However, their skin is as sensitive as a human’s skin. Imagine being whipped and beaten many times a day with dangerous weapons. The trainers don’t seem to care as they slash the elephants with bull hooks, tearing their skin. “…Ringling Bros. circus elephants are beaten, hit, poked… and jabbed with sharp hooks, sometimes until bloody” There are so many torturing methods the caretakers have in order to “train” their elephants. Small electrical zaps are shot at the elephants; their legs are constantly chained together. They barely have enough room to move around when they’re not performing. The trainers go as far as to even be rude to the elephants, using foul language, and slapping their faces.

At an early age, elephants are taken from their mothers in the wild or in captivity. The babies are only a few months old when they are snatched away from their families. They are disciplined with torture until they know exactly how to perform their tricks. After years of being abused consistently, the rough sessions take a toll on the adult elephants. Sometimes they break loose and run out into the audience or escape their confinements. Janet, a performing elephant at Palm Bay, became insane after performing night after night. She rampaged out with children on her back. Police shot her over 40 times to bring her down. This was unnecessary and could have been avoided if Janet had been treated with more kindness and patience. These elephants are constantly being abused causing them to go mad.

The living conditions for these elephants aren’t pleasant either. They’re usually kept in tight, cramped cages. Circuses usually travel for 11 months straight. The elephants are on a train most of the time. Big, heavy elephants don’t have much room to move around. They’re in dirty cages filled with their own feces. Little food and water are provided. Not only are these elephants subjected to humiliating circus acts, but they’re abused for it too. The abuse can be so traumatic; many elephants start getting symptoms that only come from trauma they have suffered in their lives. They sway back and forth and swing their legs. They bob their heads up and down. The poor elephants’ life span is decreased because of this.

Interviewing a woman who trains elephants at the local Hogle Zoo, I had a different point of view. Yes, I know that there are many loving and careful trainers who work at zoos and circuses across the world. She told me to look at both sides of the equation to which I responded that I did. However, in the entertainment business, there are still many people that abuse the animals and people they work with. To promote animal rights, elephants should immediately be taken from these circuses and put back into the wild or an elephant sanctuary.

Asian elephants are an endangered species. Ned, an Asian elephant, was sold to the circus. His trainers abused him and an animal rights group eventually freed him. Ned now resides at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Because of good people in the world, we can help rescue these brave animals from the torture in their lives. With time and patience they can recover in a safe sanctuary. Elephants should stop being used in the entertainment business because it’s a danger to them and to us.





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